The seaside look is a perennial style favorite. However, while endless blue and white stripes, driftwood sculptures and carved seagulls might look great in your vacation rental, getting the cool coastal look right in your home can be more of a challenge. Here’s how to nail this tricky trend.


LEIVARS, original photo on Houzz


Choose muted seaside colors. Coastal decor sometimes translates to white, blue and red stripes with a few anchor motifs (ships in bottles optional). But modern coastal doesn’t have to be so prescriptive.

This room features an elegant Scandinavian palette of chalky blue-grays and acid yellows, bringing to mind stormy seas and windswept dunes. The coastal theme continues in subtle details: a restrained boat painting, chunky knitted poufs (think fishermen’s sweaters) and an ultra-minimalist seagull figurine. They all signify the seaside, but there’s not a seashell-decorated statue in sight.

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The Wee House Company, original photo on Houzz


Dive into ocean drama. It probably wouldn’t be coastal if blue and white didn’t feature somewhere. But one way to make seaside more modern and bold is by choosing a darker shade, such as indigo or navy. This bedroom is still distinctly oceanic, but the inky walls and bedding create a grown-up feel. The New England-style slatted headboard adds to the vibe.


 Cabbages & Roses Ltd, original photo on Houzz


Paint tongue-and-groove paneling white. It should be out of fashion by now. But there’s something inspiring about tongue-and-groove paneling’s long-standing popularity in interiors. This simplest of paneling techniques lends an instant laid-back beach-hut vibe, while pulling off the trick of seeming classic, rustic and quaint all at once.

Here, the casually propped driftwood, rickety stools, striped cushions and vintage books create a relaxed all-at-sea atmosphere. And who knew beige floral curtains could look so charming?

Driftwood 2.0: Coastal Chic


Woodford Architecture and Interiors, original photo on Houzz


Install paneling on just one wall. In this shipshape room, a wall of horizontal tongue and groove almost gives the impression of being inside a yacht’s cabin. What also works here are the pared-back accessories: the wall-mounted oars, model yacht and twists of rope in glass bowls all nod to the boaty trend but in a way that’s contemporary and chic. Loving that precise mix of yellow, navy and white cushions too.


Sidmouth Design, original photo on Houzz


Embrace nautical without the kitsch. Who can resist a scale model of a lighthouse or a print of a beach shack? But it’s also possible to find such nautical motifs used in a creative, modern way. The beautiful yacht wallpaper in this child’s room is a case in point. It adds a magical, romantic feel, while the wide-stripe linens offer another spin on the seaside theme.


 Steffanie Danby Interiors, original photo on Houzz


Go all in. Anchors, yachts, oars, sailor stripes and helms — this nursery features almost every coastal motif in the book and still manages to look great. Nautical can be a great unisex theme in kids’ rooms. It’s stylish enough to appeal to the grown-ups while stoking the little ones’ imaginations.

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